In November of 2016, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson battled for the UFC welterweight title. The winner was then expected to defend the title against streaking welterweight contender Demian Maia sometime in the new year.
Unfortunately for Maia, who is arguably the best grappler in MMA, Woodley and Thompson fought to a frequently-debated majority draw. With this result, they were then booked for a rematch at UFC 209 on March 4, which put Maia’s long-awaited title shot on the back burner.
While this Woodley-Thompson rematch meant that Maia’s title shot would have to wait, however, the Brazilian has believed all along that he’ll get the next crack at the winner. Yet while he believes he’s earned this opportunity, the UFC has been busy offering him fights with the likes of Jorge Masvidal and Nick Diaz in the meantime – both of whom he’s declined to fight.
On Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour, Demian Maia weighed in on the complicated welterweight title picture, and where he stands in all of the chaos,
“It’s hard to understand,” he said. “The game is changing. Things are confusing right now, at least in my point of view. I’ve been been working with the UFC for the last 10 years, and I’ve never seen things like this. It’s like you said, I am the number-one-contender. Nobody is questioning that. What I think is, there are three more weekends till the [Woodley vs. Thompson] fight. So it’s pretty close. I want to wait no matter what. I can fight. It’s hard to wait. I know, for me, it’s much better to be active, to be fighting, it’s good to be active. But I know, whenever you fight, there’s a risk, so I’ve got to be patient. I spoke with all of my team. I will wait these three and a half weeks that’s left before the fight.”
While Maia isn’t exactly happy that the UFC is offering him other fights instead of a fight with the winner of the Woodley-Thompson rematch, however, he understands why they’re doing so.
“I know why [they keep offering me other fights],” he said. “There’s two reasons. One, they really don’t care too much if I’m going to fight for the title or not. But I think the main reason is that they’re having problems setting up fights. They’ve cancelled a couple of events, and they need names that can sell, and I know, even if they say I don’t sell, I know I sell something. I’m a name that can be a co-main event, or even a main event with another guy and people want to see. So it’s hard. You can get fighters, but fighters that can be in the co-main or main event is not so easy, and they need to book fights.”
Do you think Demian Maia should wait for the next title shot, or should be accept another fight in the meantime? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/6/2017.